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A ship and its cargo suffer a disaster at sea. On first impression, this is a classic case for salvage, where an intervener who retrieves property from danger may expect to receive a generous reward in accordance with long-standing Admiralty law and practice. Or look at it another way. If the ship and its cargo have sunk to a great depth, without their owners’ having realistic hope of retrieval, they may be considered as derelict, the name indicating that, if anyone were prepared to take the risk, they might recover the property and do with it as they wished. Then again, one could take a more prosaic view of the situation.
“Persons” (whether natural persons, corporations, governments or otherwise) are generally entitled to deal with their own property as they wish. They may simply retain possession of it; or use it; or realise its value by profitably disposing of it; or, if it is not in their possession, leave it where it is and waste its prospects. Perhaps oddly, one thing
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